Lemon Trees

Lemon trees in the bay area needs special care, Her is an excerpt from the book called “Northen California Gardening” by “Katherine Grace Endocott”. This post covers Lemon tree care


The lemon tree has a contrary nature.When in bloom its sweet fragrance is almost intoxicating. Even the leaves when crushed yield a sweet citrus scent that perfumeries imitate in after shave. Yet the fruit itself is so far from sweet that it cannot be eaten out of hand but must be squeezed and used sparingly.

The growing habits of lemon trees are no less contrary.They are reliable producers of fruit in coastal climates that do not have enough prolonged heat to grow other citrus such as oranges and grapefruits. Yet, with one notable exception, they are comparatively less hardy than most other citrus and none will survive temperatures much lower than 200 F. The lemon tree likes plenty of water but not plenty of rain.It is positively despondent in monsoon areas because so much overhead water leaves it vulnerable to disease.Neither does it care for a wide fluctuation of temperature. Like the gardener it is susceptible to sunburn. What the lemon tree really prefers is a cool coastal climate in an area of low rainfall,which is why many lemons are grown in favored areas of Northern California and why they are grown commercially in Sicily and Southern California.

Goethe had it right.“Know you the land where lemon-trees bloom?…a soft wind hovers from the sky, the myrtle is still and the laurel stands tall-do you know it well?There,there,I would go, O my beloved, with thee!”

Lemon trees are romantic trees to live amongst but even better, given the right selection, they are fairly easy to care for.The first choice for much of Northern California is the ‘Improved Meyer,’ which is markedly different from the grocery store lemon. The ‘Improved Meyer ‘lemon is almost round with a thin,yellow skin and a juicy,almost sweet flavor.The fruit appears practically continuously and profusely.Of all the lemons,Improved Meyer’is the most cold resistant.

The standard lemon of the supermarkets is’Eureka.’A better choice for Northern California gardens is Lisbon, ‘which is more vigorous and has almost identical fruit. ‘Ponderosa’ bears huge round lemons with a tart lemon flavor.There are novelty varieties with variegated leaves such as ‘Sungold.’I once grew a wonderfully fragrant,pink lemon that had creamy white and green leaves unfortunately a severe cold snap killed it.

Lemon Tree Growing Simplified

Botanical name: Citrus limon.

Common name:Lemon tree.

Site preference:Grow in full sun.In areas of high heat lemon trees will tolerate some shade.

Soil conditions:Lemon trees must have well-drained soil.In areas where soil does not drain quickly, plant in a container.

Water:Water frequently,but never keep the soil soggy because lemons need air in the soil. Container trees will always need frequent watering,but trees that have grown in the ground for three or four years will survive with watering every other week in the dry season.

Nutrients: Because lemons need a high-nitrogen fertilizer and often require iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc, it is best to use a fertilizer especially formulated for citrus.

Problems:Wash away ants,aphids,mealybugs,or spider mites with a strong blast of water. Repeat for several days in a row.

Special care:Provide frost protection for young lemon trees whenever temperatures sink below 26F.Paint the trunk with a diluted white or brown latex paint to prevent sunburned bark.

Hints:Mulch,but keep the mulch six inches away from the trunk to prevent diseases. Prune away dead or crossed branches.